A day before India opens up its vaccination drive to everyone above the age of 45, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Chairperson of Empowered Group on COVID-19 vaccination RS Sharma chaired a high-level meeting with health secretaries, state mission directors of National Health Mission and state immunisation officers of all states and UTs.
Bhushan and Sharma reviewed the status, pace and issues on COVID vaccination as well as the preparations for April.
Identification of low vaccine coverage pockets particularly in districts showing COVID surge and necessary corrective actions to be taken were discussed in the meeting, as per a health ministry press release.
The ministry advised the states and UTs to retain vaccine wastage at below 1 percent. At present, the national vaccine wastage rate is around 6 percent.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The following advice was given to states and UTs
On vaccination coverage of healthcare and frontline workers> Ensure only eligible beneficiaries are registered and vaccinated under the category of HCW and FLW.
> Saturation of vaccination of these groups on priority.
On involvement of Private COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs)> Conduct regular reviews of vaccinations at private CVCs with respect to their capacity utilisation.
> Address apprehensions of Private CVCs regarding vaccine supply, guidelines proactively.
On the issue of vaccine stock> There is no sedimentation of vaccine stocks at any level of storage.
> Regular review of vaccine stocks and consumption is undertaken to identify gap areas and address the same.
The Centre also advised the States and UTs to regularly review vaccine wastage across all levels to minimize the same.
"Ensure timely utilization of available stocks to avoid expiry of vaccines without usage. Timely updating of data of vaccine consumption to be ensured on CoWIN & eVIN portals," it said.Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak